Ahead of the start of the 2016/17 Gibraltar Premier Division tonight, Football Gibraltar takes a look at all 10 teams and attempts to predict where they will finish come the end of the season Continue reading
Ahead of a new campaign, echoes from the one just past continue to be heard.
By what distance will Lincoln Red Imps leave the rest of the teams behind in the league? Can Europa mount a sustained and convincing title challenge? And who amongst the rest will be discarded as also-rans?
Yet the fortunes of Europa, Manchester and Lynx provide an interesting diversion. The Premier plays out to familiar themes, but intrigue can still be found lurking in its midst.
Europa seek to close gap
The expectation is of Lincoln Red Imps confirming, again, that no team can bridge the gap to their greater resources, and it is in Europe that the champions will be exposed to more gruelling challenges.
Under David Carrasco, Europa have become reliably strong, assertive and consistent.
The signing of Juan Jose Bezares Alacon and Pedrio Carrion brings plenty of experience. Europa also brought in plenty of youth to balance out the squad such as Javi Martinez, Joselinho & striker Antonio Truji all suggest the team could yet be more effective this campaign.
The players ought to be hardened to the mental challenges that come with their prominence.
Europa had a good record against all the top-flight teams other than Lincoln last season, but the squad should be better prepared for the expectation level that comes with being the team best equipped to at least pressurise the reigning champions.
Re-building at Lynx
At Lynx FC, the fascination is with the constant process of rejuvenation. Can a team shorn of its three best players – Raducio King, Mohammed Magdy and Rafa Bado, all of whom joined different clubs – find the means to recover?
We expect Albert Parody to bring out a new squad this weekend the funds the clubs have not an issue.
Flaws need to be managed, too, since Aaron Akrapovic joins the club from Europa FC and at 21 the midfielder needs to show he has the character and spirit to accompany decent technique and speed.
Manchester back with a bang?
The challenge for Manchester 62 is to maintain their progress, after such a poor performance last season despite finishing second in the year before that.
The recruitment strategy has been agreed, since the new signings are all arguably better than those they have or will replace in the side, with only Shaun De Los Santos from Lions Gibraltar FC being captured for his potential.
Manchester 62 were also expected to sign ex-Lincoln goalkeeper Dayle Coleing but the deal fell through as Dayle will be moving to university.
Battle at the bottom
More grimly, the wonder is which established sides will find themselves in a battle for survival? Finances remain tight across the division and many of the teams have had to struggle just to try to maintain their squads.
Even so, it is possible to assume improvements at most apart from Angels FC and Glacis Utd.
The tendency is for teams at the top and at the bottom to be cut adrift from the rest as the season unfolds, and to that end this campaign is likely to have a familiar feel to it.